Risotto is the combination of the labor of love and the virtue of patience. The end result is not only delicious, but the perfect comfort food. There is a risotto recipe for every season, but our friend Dalya has created the perfect fall recipe for Tomato & Garlic Confit Risotto that is simple enough for a weeknight dinner and elegant enough to make an appearance at a holiday meal. Following some simple tips on how to make the perfect risotto, you too can elevate your meals with a restaurant quality risotto that will impress your family and friends!
People will tell you that rice is the main ingredient of risotto, but they are wrong. The main ingredient is patience! It is not a difficult dish to prepare if you are ready to devote the time necessary to make it properly. It’s incredibly versatile. You can add any flavor, and any ingredients that suit your fancy. This versatility is what makes it the perfect dish for family meals and dinner parties.
The Right Kind of Rice
Aside from patience, rice is the main ingredient of this dish. When it comes to risotto, not all types of rice are created equal. There are different types of rice for different applications. For risotto, you want a rice that is specifically grown for the texture of the dish. The best varieties of rice for risotto have a high starch content and are short to medium grain. Arborio rice is the most readily available rice appropriate for risotto recipes. It is wider and longer than other risotto varieties and will result in a thicker, softer risotto. Carnaroli is the optimal variety for risotto. It is known as the king of risotto rice and will yield the creamiest risotto. The other variety of rice appropriate for risotto is Vialone Nano. It’s less sticky and produces a desirable wavy texture in the risotto dish. Arborio is the rice that Dalya uses in her recipe and the one you will probably have the most success in finding.
First Prepare the Tomato Confit
The very first thing you should know about making risotto is that you should never attempt to cook vegetables in your risotto. If you want to add veggies, like the tomato confit in Dalya’s recipe, it is best to prepare it ahead of time and add it to the risotto after it’s finished cooking. This will ensure that both the veggies and the rice are perfectly done and the textures will complement each other.
For the tomato confit, you will first preheat your oven to 275° F. Then, in a baking dish, combine our Organic Juno® Bites Red Grape Tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and thyme. Sprinkle the mixture with sugar and bake for an hour and a half until the tomatoes have burst. Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool to room temperature.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when cooking risotto is using cold or room temperature stock. Adding a cold stock will cool everything down and can possibly ruin the risotto. The very first thing that needs to be done in the process of making risotto is heating that stock up. Place the stock in a large pot and bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down to low, bringing the liquid to a simmer to remain hot.
Next, you will heat some oil in a pan over medium heat. Pay close attention to the type of pan you use. If it’s too wide, the rice will cook in a thin layer and it won’t be able to generate the amount of starch needed for that creamy texture. A pot that is too wide will also have hot and cold spots if it’s too wide for your burner. Be sure to select one that fits the burner.
Add in the onions and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until they are translucent. Mince two cloves of garlic and add it to the onions, cooking another 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in your dry rice and spices, then cook it down until any moisture has evaporated. Add the wine and repeat the same process.
It is finally time to start adding in the stock. This is where you need to summon your patience and pay close attention to the matter at hand. If you dump the stock in all at once, you’re just boiling the rice and that is not what risotto is all about. Slowly add the stock, a quarter of a cup at a time and wait until the rice absorbs most, if not all of it, before adding more. The rule of thumb here is that you’ll use about 4 cups of stock for every cup of arborio rice. Repeat the process of adding stock until the rice has puffed up and is al dente.
The Finishing Touches
Another common mistake people make when preparing risotto is adding the cheese in too early. This is to be added at the end of the cooking process. Dalya removes the pan from the heat before she stirs in the cheese. Then she adds half of the tomato confit and mixes it into the risotto.
You can transfer the risotto into a serving dish and garnish it with the remaining confit, plus extra cheese or you can serve it in individual bowls and let your guests garnish it however they please!
For Dalya’s full Tomato & Garlic Confit Risotto recipe, click here.
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